Price paid: $ 299.99
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
Because of the AEG body style, the sound isn't as pronounced and you lose a lot of bottom end acoustically that you would normally get with a full-sized dreadnaught. It seems brighter, but still sounds pleasant to the ears without being too shrill. The lighter sound is expected, considering the smaller body so it wasn't a surprise. Plugging the guitar into an amp is where this guitar shines. The onboard EQ is very responsive, with the Phase button noticeably able to help cancel feedback. You get back that full, dreadnaught sound and with the help of the onboard EQ or amp controls (depending on the amp), you can easily make up for the lack of bottom end that the guitar has acoustically. It's almost an entirely different guitar when plugged in. So acoustically, it sounds OK. Perfectly fine when practicing on your own, or for just having fun with friends. If you're planning on seriously performing though and tone is important, plug it in, even if it's just to a small amp on the clean setting. The change can be surprising.
Overall Impression — 8
I was actually quite impressed with this guitar. I didn't have much experience with acoustics and having played mainly electric, I very much enjoyed the fact that this felt very close to the electrics I normally would play. The slim AEG body makes it much more comfortable to play than a full size dreadnaught and the strap peg placement further gives it the "electric" feel. The neck is nice and slim in comparison to other acoustics and doesn't have the "big" feel. I was also surprised by how low the action was. Many of the acoustics I tried had an action that was much, much higher, and pretty much what I had expected an Acoustic to be. I'm sure with a proper setup, many of the other guitars could have had their action lowered, but this one was nice and low, right out of the box. Of course, due to the smaller shape, there's a compromise in Acoustic tone as stated above, but if it's just being used to practice on, that's hardly an issue. When tone DOES become an issue, and you feel you're ready to start performing with it, plugging it into an amp unleashes the guitar's true potential. Again, the smaller shape makes it a lot easier to handle on stage, making for much more comfort and, personally, ease of play. I definitely would get this guitar again if it were lost or stolen. It's fun to play, not too ungainly, and sounds surprisingly nice when plugged in.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is definitely a performer's guitar. Fishman is well known for their Acoustic pickups, and this guitar definitely shines when plugged in. The strap buttons seem quite solid. The finish does seem quite thin, so lots and lots of hard playing could very well wear the finish down quite quickly, but without having had it long enough to see, that would just be simple speculation. The guitar definitely seems solidly built and I would expect it to perform, and withstand Live playing like any other Acoustic. Like any guitar, I wouldn't care how "quality" it would be, I would always consider gigging with a backup.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was surprisingly setup nicely right out of the box (I had opted for one out of the box, after a good inspection). Neck was perfectly straight, surprisingly low action for an Acoustic, and with very little buzz. An adjustment to the neck would probably be needed to fully get rid of the very light buzzing, but it would be a very minor adjustment. There were no "sawtooth" fret edges. The finish was nice and even with nice little adornments (abalone rosette, pearl markers, and cream white binding). I didn't notice any particular flaws on the guitar, at least none worth any noting.
Features — 7
Nowhere can I find any information in regards to whether or not this is a solid spruce or laminate spruce top. I've heard many tout that it's a laminate top, but I have not been able to confirm from anything specific (at least from Ibanez themselves). Also, according to what information I got with the swing tags, this came strung with D'Addario EXP strings. The AEG body style is a slimmer, dreadnaught shape. For the cost, admittedly I would have hoped for a little more, such as name brand tuners, or even a gig bag, but that's just a small complaint from my penny pinching side.